Follow the money.

That famous quote from “All the President’s Men,” the film about how Washington Post reporters uncovered the Watergate scandal, is something we keep in the back of our minds as we examine the workings of our state, especially public agencies.

That’s why we’re back for a second year with our annual evaluation of how the state spends its single biggest pot of money — salaries and benefits for employees. This is just one of our many efforts to make more transparent how government works, to help make it possible for citizens to evaluate where money is spent and whether it’s spent wisely.

The information we are sharing is public, by law. But the government doesn’t make it easy to access. We’ve done that work for you.

On Tuesday we’ll be publishing a searchable database of more than 14,000 state positions, with the name, job title and salary or salary range of each individual. You’ll be able to search by first and last name, department, job title, salary range and year.

This will be the first installment of this year’s series of articles, covering all state departments except the Hawaii Department of Education, University of Hawaii, Hawaii Health Systems Corp., the Hawaii Judiciary and the Legislature. Those will be coming soon, as will the City and County of Honolulu.

We’ll tell you who’s making the most money — the list has changed — and we’ll tell you about the nearly 1,000 full-time state government employees who if they were earning at the bottom of their salary scale could qualify for federal nutritional assistance, or food stamps.

Last year, when we published this information, it was the first time any Hawaii news organization had done so, although it’s commonplace in other states.

As I wrote a year ago, “providing data on how government works is central to our commitment to helping you understand local issues, including how government operates and how much it costs.”

That’s why you find us linking to or sharing so many original government records in our articles.

Our leaders are faced with making tough budget decisions. The public’s input is key. But for the public to be a help, people must be informed. We believe the more people know the better.

Just as it’s important for citizens to know how the state is spending tax dollars, it’s also important for state employees to know that they’re being paid fairly in comparison with their colleagues.

Change Begins With a Question™: What do you think about the way our state employees are being paid?

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